In recent years, Prime Circle has turned in little more than finely nuanced stylistic variations on modern rock to a fanbase that’s loyally sustained it through more than a decade. On their fifth studio album, they once again turn to the production tag-team of producer Theo Crous and mixer Kevin Shirley, jointly creating a rock record that doesn’t allow a global production sheen to smother what frequently feels like a live recording.
Evidence is loosely themed around a crime scene, with Dirk Bisschoff’s cranked-up, gun-rattling guitar and Dale Schnettler and Marco Gomes’ off-the-charts rhythm section urging the action forward. Like a blood-splattered room, it’s not always pretty as lead singer Ross Learmonth tries to comprehend human frailties (“No more corrupt conditions/ Corporate crimes and addictions” on standout “King For A Day”). Fans looking for an uplifting stadium ballad here are likely to come up short. Ironically, the mightiest track on Evidence is an acoustic version of the title track where Learmonth’s vocal delivery – and the insistent “no, no, no, no, no”, handclaps and strings – wrings out the kind of anguish that only a murder or the cruel detonation of a relationship could result in.
From time to time, Prime Circle falls back into the easy chair of more pedestrian power ballads (“Time Kills Us All”, “Change”, “Only Way Out”) but on the evidence here, South Africa’s most successful rock band can easily ride out another decade.